When you look up the word ‘entrepreneur’---you will find the definition of Dustin Keller, Co-Founder of Help I Need Transportation (H.I.N.T). He is an energetic, driven, and creative leader, who is also a visionary and problem-solver. Throughout years of success in the automotive industry, Dustin’s core stays true with self-less, empathetic, transparent, and impactful service to others. “With me, what you see is what you get. Regardless of whether our conversation is about your car, your business, or issues in your life! I love to make a difference and help people who are stuck, get through their situation.”
As a life-long Columbus resident, Dustin continues to possess a genuine knack for building long-term relationships with customers, clients, employees, and the community. Within a year after the historical event on September 11th, Dustin joined the Army National Guard, served as a Combat Engineer, and completed the SMP Leadership Program offered to select Soldiers. Upon returning to Columbus, Dustin attended Franklin University where he earned his BSBA and Master of Financial Leadership. Surrounded by true entrepreneurial parents, Carma Godby and Brad Keller, Dustin was inspired and encouraged to carry on the entrepreneurial spirit.
Dustin’s growth in the automotive industry has led to multiple auto repair and towing businesses, which operate under the umbrella of Alpha Automotive. “A few years ago, I witnessed a single mom who came into the shop with her infant, and she was driving a dilapidated and unsafe vehicle. She did not have the money to pay for the repairs and I knew she was just one pothole away from disaster. This is not something that I could stand by and allow to happen. At that point, it deeply resonated with me that others are in a similar situation, and I need to do something about it.”
Since 2005, Dustin has graciously extended pro-bono and discounted auto repair services to those in desperate circumstances, but this ’generosity’ was never formally documented. In March of 2021, Dustin and his business partner, Steve Cox, decided it was time to launch a non-profit for the purpose of repairing or gifting transportation to restore hope, opportunity, and dignity. Therefore, H.I.N.T. was born to primarily serve single parents, disabled or elderly individuals, as well as Veterans. “We let them know they are not alone, and that people do care.”
H.I.N.T. has an online application process for free auto repair services or to request a free vehicle. Since 2022, H.I.N.T. has provided $12,000 worth of free auto repairs and has gifted 4 vehicles. “I am proud to add value to the community. This extends beyond the repairs or ‘new’ vehicle. H.I.N.T. provides a way for people to get back to work as active and good-standing members of society. My hope is that once they are back on their feet, they will share their story of success with others.” In 2023, H.I.N.T. is adding auto repair courses for those who are interested in pursuing a career in the Auto Repair Industry. H.I.N.T. will also be offering one-day Auto Safety Clinics to teach basic auto safety--such as how to check the oil, change a tire, understand the warning lights on the dash, install a car seat, etc. This is critical information that every driver—young or old—should know!
“Currently, there are 30 individuals in the que for a ‘new’ gently used vehicle and the harsh reality is that it takes time and money to fulfill these hopes.” H.I.N.T. hosts Quarterly fundraisers to raise support for the organization, so they can continue to bless others. “It feels good to make a difference and give away a car. I am excited to embrace each new day because I know that people need me!”
As you meet Steve Cox, Co-Founder of Help I Need Transportation (H.I.N.T.) you will immediately sense his grounded and authentic demeanor along with his passion for numbers and willingness to extend a hand and help others. From childhood, Steve always loved numbers which led him to attend Muskingum University in New Concord, Ohio, where he earned his Bachelor of Arts in Math & Accounting. After working at Nationwide Insurance, in their Employee Benefits Department for 19 years, Steve ventured out on his own and launched Romans 1 Financial in 2008. “Romans 1 is my favorite chapter in the Bible, so this inspired my company name.”
As a licensed CPA and Insurance Agent, Steve is well-versed in all aspects of Tax Planning & Preparation, Accounting, and Investment Consulting. Between Steve’s extensive tax and accounting experience and Dustin Keller’s decades of expertise in the Automotive Industry, they form a perfect partnership as Co-Founders of H.I.N.T. “Both Dustin and I understand the bigger purpose in life. In March 2021, we decided to file and register the non-profit. I am responsible for all the back-office financials because that is what I am good at. Dustin isthe automotive expert, so launching H.I.N.T. is our way to blend our talents and give back to the community by helping people get back on their feet.”
Steve can’t imagine the anxiety and worry associated with going out to your car and wondering if it will start, if it will be safe, and if it will get you to work on time. H.I.N.T. is dedicated to serving hard-working individuals who are living this scenario and don’t have the means to pay for their auto repairs. “If you can’t get to work---then it is unlikely that you will be able to keep your job. Then the rest is downhill from there. In addition to providing free auto repair services, we have been able to bless 4 families with ‘new’ gently used cars and that is exciting. It warms my heart.”
Growing a business through word of mouth and referrals is nothing new to either Steve or Dustin and they are confident that H.I.N.T. will grow in a similar manner. “Doing good for the community and getting the word out through those who have either received our services or through other non-profits or service organizations is a must for our outreach. We are seeking those who will refer individuals, who will participate in our fundraisers, or those who have the heart to donate a used car.”
Steve Cox is a Man of God, who faithfully attends church, volunteers when and where he sees a need, and is always growing and forging on. But, because there are limited hours in each day, he is persistent and intentional when it comes how he allocates his time. “I am blessed that I can work from anywhere and be productive and efficient, while doing so. My favorite quote from Theodore Roosevelt is ‘It is not the critic who counts. Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.’”